Meet the Seattle Renters’ Commission: Daniela Lopez

The Mayor and Seattle City Council recently announced the initial appointees selected to serve on the new Seattle Renters’ Commission. Created by Ordinance 125280 in March 2017, the 15-member commission will advise the City on priorities, policies, and strategies related to all issues concerning renters across the City of Seattle. It will also monitor and provide feedback on the enforcement and effectiveness of legislation related to renters and renter protections. All the appointments are subject to City Council confirmation.

 

Daniela Lopez

Daniela Lopez grew up in central California’s agriculturally-rich, socially and racially diverse San Joaquin Valley. She studied Literature and Mass Communication & Journalism at California State University, Fresno, where she served as section editor and writer for the university’s newspaper. She managed small businesses in the beauty and health industry while in college and, a few years after graduation, made the transition into the legal field after obtaining her Paralegal Certification at the University of Washington. She moved to Seattle more than five years ago and has lived in Ballard, Magnolia, Pioneer Square, and now Fremont. She looks forward to serving her neighborhood and the Seattle community.

 

What inspired you to serve on the Seattle Renters’ Commission?

In my five years in Seattle, I’ve become aware of the importance access to affordable housing has upon people’s lives. Professional advancement, community involvement, cultural development, and social engagement are all impacted by the accessibility to affordable housing in Seattle. I believe people from diverse social and economic backgrounds should have an equitable opportunity to prosper within our city limits and enable progress in Seattle.

 

How has your experience as a renter shaped your perspective of Seattle?

Like many others, I came to Seattle for the professional and cultural opportunities the city offers. Although Seattle is enriched by and dependent on people involved in the trades and service work, the access to safe and affordable housing is increasingly less viable for low and middle-income earners. My own experience with the cost to secure an apartment in Seattle has shown me the importance of readily-available resources and options for those left in the margins of an expensive rental market.

 

What do you hope the Seattle Renters’ Commission will bring to the City?

I hope open dialogue between city government and the people directly affected by local regulations, policy, and a changing rental market can provide the space for creative and well-developed problem-solving resolutions that will help the community of Seattle at large.

 

What neighborhood do you live in and what do you love most about it?

I live in Fremont and I love it! I love relaxing at Gas Works Park, sipping coffee at Stone Way Cafe, or grabbing a beer at Brouwer’s. The central location and proximity to other neighborhoods, restaurants, night life, and parks and trails makes Fremont the perfect Seattle neighborhood.

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Meet the Seattle Renters’ Commission: Cliff Cawthon

The Mayor and Seattle City Council recently announced the initial appointees selected to serve on the new Seattle Renters’ Commission. Created by Ordinance 125280 in March 2017, the 15-member commission will advise the City on priorities, policies, and strategies related to all issues concerning renters across the City of Seattle. It will also monitor and provide feedback on the enforcement and effectiveness of legislation related to renters and renter protections. All the appointments are subject to City Council confirmation.

 

Cliff Cawthon

Cliff Cawthon is a local organizer and writer from Buffalo, NY, who currently lives in South Seattle’s Hillman City neighborhood with his partner, another prolific organizer. Cliff has been working in politics and been a part of social justice struggles for the last fifteen years. Since arriving in Seattle four years ago, he has worked alongside workers, community members, and underrepresented communities on workers’ rights campaigns and anti-displacement campaigns, some during intense election years. As a renter in Seattle who has faced slumlords and racial discrimination while trying to maintain housing, Cliff is passionate about housing justice. Currently he works as the Organizing Director for SAFE, a housing justice organization, and is the Vice Chair of the Tenants Union Board of Directors. He earned a M.A. in Human Rights and Political Science from the University of Manchester in England.

 

What inspired you to serve on the Seattle Renters’ Commission?

I believe that housing is a human right. We all have the right to a safe, healthy, and decent place to live. In my lived experience as a renter and a low-income Black resident of Seattle, I’ve seen many of the inequities and challenges under-represented people face in securing housing. I want to be a voice for those who are struggling to find shelter because of profit, overzealous development, and discrimination. I believe that we need to, not just have a voice, but shape policy in order to deliver what everyone in this city deserves: access to housing and the opportunity to live and thrive in this community.

 

How has your experience as a renter shaped your perspective of Seattle?

My experiences as a renter have taught me that we are both a city in crisis and a city with the opportunity to make it right. Here in Seattle, there are numerous obstacles to finding a decent place to live. My partner and I have experienced discriminatory hostility from landlords, willful violations of local and state housing law, and the depressing reality of being faced with a plethora of unaffordable options that result in only a few being able to live in luxury housing – especially in historically redlined communities, like many neighborhoods in South Seattle and the Central District. As rents rise, I’ve seen more and more of my friends move into more precarious housing situations, making saving for buying a home or advancing themselves further out of reach. Missing a chance to make Seattle a city for renters carries dire consequences for me, my partner, and our community.

 

What do you hope the Seattle Renters’ Commission will bring to the City?

From my work as the Organizing Director for Standing Against Foreclosure and Eviction and as the Vice Chair of the Tenants Union of WA Board of Directors, I have seen the Seattle Renters’ Commission take shape in order to give renters a voice and I believe it can do just that.

I believe the Renters’ Commission can deliver recommendations that address HALA’s problematic gaps when it comes to ensuring that we can build and price enough affordable units to our current and future residents here in Seattle. Also, I believe that we can deliver systemic policy recommendations that will further eliminate barriers to tenants securing decent housing, from all backgrounds.

Moreover, I aspire to be able to comprehensively address housing discrimination and homelessness here in this city – to reduce homelessness and housing discrimination to zero.

 

What neighborhood do you live in and what do you love most about it?

I am proud to live in Hillman City. I have always wanted to live in the most diverse zip-code in the country and what I love most about it is not just the “diversity,” as many call it, but the neighbors’ commitment to social justice and building a beloved community.

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Meet the Seattle Renters’ Commission: Jessie Jacobs

The Mayor and Seattle City Council recently announced the initial appointees selected to serve on the new Seattle Renters’ Commission. Created by Ordinance 125280 in March 2017, the 15-member commission will advise the City on priorities, policies, and strategies related to all issues concerning renters across the City of Seattle. It will also monitor and provide feedback on the enforcement and effectiveness of legislation related to renters and renter protections. All the appointments are subject to City Council confirmation.

 

Jessie Jacobs

Jessie Jacobs is a white, queer, genderqueer technology professional and community organizer originally hailing from the Midwest. Prior to setting down roots in Seattle in 2014, they lived in New Orleans and Atlanta for several years. As a longtime anti-racist community organizer, Jessie has participated in and led many organizing efforts regarding healthcare, education, immigrants’ rights, homelessness, and fair housing. For the past three years, they have been working with Seattle’s May 1st Action Coalition, which organizes Seattle’s annual May 1st March for Workers’ and Immigrants’ rights. As a long-time renter, Jessie is keenly interested in working with their fellow commissioners to preserve fair and affordable housing for all Seattleites, as well as working to reverse the long history of gentrification and displacement that has plagued Seattle for many years. They currently reside in the Alki neighborhood in West Seattle with their partner, three cats, and a baby due in November 2017.

 

What inspired you to serve on the Seattle Renters’ Commission?

Prior to moving to Seattle in 2014, I lived many places, including New Orleans and Atlanta. I have been a renter for nearly twenty years and during that time I have faced housing discrimination for being queer, as well as having to deal with substandard housing issues while juggling full-time work and full-time school. I have witnessed the housing discrimination that my friends of color have had to endure, as well as the struggle that my mother and Muslim stepfather faced when looking for housing after 9/11. I have watched as friends and family were unable to find accessible housing that would accommodate their physical needs. I have seen my friends who head single-income or single-parent households make incredible compromises that mean less time with their children in order to be able to afford rent and/or childcare. These are just a few of the experiences that inspired me to serve on the Seattle Renters’ Commission (SRC).

Another inspiration for serving on the SRC is the rapid rate at which the Seattle market, in particular, is changing. Many of the issues that affect renters in Seattle exist in other cities, such as sub-par housing conditions (and absent landlords), lack of transportation options for low- to middle-income renters, lack of affordable housing, and housing discrimination (based on race, religion, ethnicity, LGBTQ status, etc.). However, Seattle’s economic boom exacerbates these issues and continues to drive gentrification and displacement at a breakneck pace. The SRC has the opportunity to play a critical role in preserving our neighborhoods and making Seattle a better place for all renters.

 

How has your experience as a renter shaped your perspective of Seattle?

During my time as a renter, I spent years working at least one job to pay for living expenses while attending school. This meant years of worrying about housing: whether the application will go through, whether I have enough documentation, whether the background check will clear, whether the building will get sold, whether they will terminate my lease, etc.

When I moved to Seattle, I hadn’t started my new job yet and I was nervous that it would be hard to rent an apartment. To my astonishment, every one of the new, large developer-built apartment complexes offered to waive most of the deposits and background checks. The only proof of income was an offer letter from my employer. While I have experienced rental discrimination based on being LGBTQ, my whiteness and economic privilege has never been as evident as it is while looking for housing in Seattle.

 

What do you hope the Seattle Renters’ Commission will bring to the City?

I’m excited to work with such talented and dedicated commissioners. I have two hopes for the SRC. First, I’m hoping we can build partnerships between Seattle City government groups and the many wonderful neighborhood and community organizations across the city focused on issues that renters face every day. Second, I hope we can successfully address the causes of foundational renter issues (affordability, quality, and availability), and move towards addressing issues such as transportation to low-income neighborhoods and access to neighborhood resources (supermarkets, banks, childcare/preschool, healthcare, etc.). I believe that diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, ability, religion, economic class, sexual orientation, and gender (to name a few) are the foundation for a truly thriving city and by working together we can make it easier for everyone to live here.

 

What neighborhood do you live in and what do you love most about it?

I live in the Alki neighborhood in West Seattle. I love the vibrancy and activity during the summertime – the beach brings so many people together from so many different Seattle neighborhoods (and surrounding communities). Alki Beach Park is one of those great public resources that adds to the quality of life for the whole city. During the wintertime, when the beach is quiet, I enjoy connecting with my neighbors in our wonderful local spots, as well as wandering the beach and watching sea critters with my partner.

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Meet the Seattle Renters’ Commission: Michael Padilla

The Mayor and Seattle City Council recently announced the initial appointees selected to serve on the new Seattle Renters’ Commission. Created by Ordinance 125280 in March 2017, the 15-member commission will advise the City on priorities, policies, and strategies related to all issues concerning renters across the City of Seattle. It will also monitor and provide feedback on the enforcement and effectiveness of legislation related to renters and renter protections. All the appointments are subject to City Council confirmation.

 

Michael Padilla

Michael Padilla currently works at a nonprofit devoted to engaging young people in the political process. He has worked at the nonprofit and grassroots level for the last five years in Seattle and Western Washington, helping create strong communities through campus organizing, community organizing, and advocating for progressive policies. He was born in Cuernavaca, Mexico but was raised in the great state of Washington, and graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His studies there focused on how government policies can best foster sustainable social, economic, and political progress for marginalized communities in an inclusive manner. He also possesses an associate’s degree in Civil Engineering from Lake Washington Technical College where his studies helped him gain an understanding of smart urban planning and development. He strives to continue using his knowledge and experience in a way that is inclusive of the voices and leaders of the city’s marginalized communities.

 

What inspired you to serve on the Seattle Renters’ Commission?

I was motivated to join the Renter’s Commission because of the current state of the city, and because I know that we have great leaders in our community that can help if we’re willing to listen and work with them. We’re facing a housing crisis and homelessness crisis, and families are being pushed out of Seattle. We need the voice of the people most affected to help the City Council and Mayor’s office form policy that addresses the needs of those most impacted. We’ve passed some progressive legislation in the last couple of years but if we don’t work to make Seattle more affordable so that families and whole communities aren’t displaced, then I feel that we aren’t living up to our values as a welcoming city. We’ve arrived where we are because we haven’t listened to the community, and the only way to move forward is to include the voices of those most marginalized.

 

How has your experience as a renter shaped your perspective of Seattle?

I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to continue living in Seattle at a time when it’s becoming more difficult for a lot of people. But in the time that I’ve lived in the city I’ve had to live with roommates to afford my rent. When I first moved to Seattle from the Eastside, after taking on a paid Fellowship program, I was only able to afford to live here because I was offered a homestay as part of my Fellowship. After wrapping that up, I was able to stay because I split a room with a friend in a rented house with 8 other people. That set-up worked for me but it is certainly not sustainable for many people and families throughout Seattle. With rents continuing to increase, even having multiple roommates won’t help. Young people dealing with student loan debt, families with medical debt, individuals on fixed incomes, and more all need our support if we are truly willing to be an inclusive and welcoming city. I grew up in apartments. I’ve been a renter my whole life and I’ve been fortunate enough to move forward. I want to take my personal experiences and make sure that others have the support they need to succeed.

 

What do you hope the Seattle Renters’ Commission will bring to the City?

I hope that the Renter’s Commission will bring more voices into the decision-making process. Seattle is facing some tough issues that require a new way of thinking and engagement to resolve. We need to engage renters, people experiencing homelessness, communities of color, immigrant communities, young people, and more if we actually want to solve anything. The people most directly affected by the policies the Commission will be looking at are the same people that know exactly what needs to be continued, expanded, or changed to truly help Seattleites succeed.

 

What neighborhood do you live in and what do you love most about it?

I currently live in Greenwood with my partner and our roommate. I’ve been in that neighborhood for a couple of years now and I love it. I really like having Greenlake a short walk away, a ton of great food within walking distance (it’s all about Gorditos!), and some of the best dogs the city has to offer for neighbors!

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Meet the Seattle Renters’ Commission: Beverly Aarons

The Mayor and Seattle City Council recently announced the initial appointees selected to serve on the new Seattle Renters’ Commission. Created by Ordinance 125280 in March 2017, the 15-member commission will advise the City on priorities, policies, and strategies related to all issues concerning renters across the City of Seattle. It will also monitor and provide feedback on the enforcement and effectiveness of legislation related to renters and renter protections. All the appointments are subject to City Council confirmation.

 

Beverly Aarons

Beverly Aarons has lived in Seattle since 2010. She is a renter, writer, gardener, and community activist who has lived in Queen Anne, Belltown, and Pioneer Square. Her current projects include creating a video game about the impacts of gentrification on renters.

 

What inspired you to serve on the Seattle Renters’ Commission?

I saw that there was a pressing need to provide not only affordable housing for Seattle’s renters but supportive laws and policies that consider all aspects of a renter’s life. Seeing how rising rents were becoming a fast track to homelessness, I was compelled to take action for myself and my fellow renters so that we can remain housed and a part of this thriving city.

 

How has your experience as a renter shaped your perspective of Seattle?

I have experienced the full impact of rising rents. After facing a 70% rent hike when living in Queen Anne, that experience made me feel that Seattle was becoming a place that would no longer include people like me. I began to feel that Seattle was becoming a place only for landowners and the wealthy.  I also felt that there were no laws protecting me from excessive rent hikes and that I could be pushed out of anywhere I lived at any time.

 

What do you hope the Seattle Renters’ Commission will bring to the City?

I hope to bring to the commission my ability to see the interconnectedness of various issues and my ability to problem solve.

 

What neighborhood do you live in and what do you love most about it?

I live in Belltown/Downtown. What I love most about this area is how it makes me feel more connected to the entire city. All the buses and the train come through this area so I can go anywhere and enjoy the entire city.

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